Category Archives: McLellan, Kevin

An Overheard Conversation



by Kevin McLellan

M. finally procured one that fateful day of compliments and smiles. Was it charm? They were all dressed the same, but it was the one in front of the fire station filling the community dog bowl with water that caught M’s eye. Yes, M. acquired a fireperson which M. named F. Soon after F. moved into M.’s sizeable ranch the ceiling started to sag.

M. was relieved to have someone take care of the cleaning and especially after dinner, You look strapping! F. ignores the comment and turns away from the kitchen sink, You need to return me to the station where I belong. M. responds, If one works more so with things, rather than with people, then one is also a thing. You are a thing, and you belong to me. F. blankly looks at M., returns to the neutral dishes in the sink.

M. watches F. brush and floss in the medicine cabinet mirror, You look so fine and delicate. F. turns off the tap, I belong to the fire station. M. follows F. into the bedroom and then watches the staring in the full-length mirror while turning down the waterbed covers. The waterbed makes an undulating sound. Why won’t you look at me like the way you look at yourself? F. doesn’t respond as M. sets the alarm clock for 7:00 a.m. and extinguishes the handsome lamp.

F. wears turnout gear to bed, sleeps on top of the bed, sleeps facing the wall. The wallpaper repeats the same pink flower. They are equally spaced apart. It is as if these same flowers are floating, but they will never touch.

Kevin McLellan is the author of the chapbooks Shoes on a wire (Split Oak, forthcoming) runner-up for the 2012 Stephen Dunn Prize in Poetry and Round Trip (Seven Kitchens, 2010), a collaborative series of poems with numerous women poets. He has recent or forthcoming poems in journals including: American Letters & Commentary, Barrow Street, Colorado Review, Kenyon Review Online, Puerto del Sol, Sixth Finch, Western Humanities Review, Witness and numerous others. Kevin lives in Cambridge MA, and sometimes teaches poetry workshops at URI.

In your cover letter, you referred to “Ménage” as “a tiny piece of prose that attempts to explore gender-neutrality and objectification.” Would you please elaborate?

    The lamp is handsome. The flowered wallpaper is (considered) feminine.

    This tiny piece of prose attempts to break down sex and gender stereotyping — by not appropriating a sex to each of the characters and by assigning gender labels to objects while also incorporating things that have certain associations or allegiances to a particular gender — and explore objectification, not unlike the process of building a fire to put out a fire.

    The dishes are neutral.